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Board of directors

AHA’s board of directors is independently selected to provide a suitable mix of professional experience and expertise to govern all aspect of the company.

Independent and experienced

Animal Health Australia’s Board comprises seven non-executive part-time directors, independently selected by a selection committee on the basis of complementary skill sets and appointed by AHA’s members for a 4-year term at our Annual General Meeting.

The Board’s primary role is to set and monitor the implementation of the company’s strategic direction, establishing and monitoring the achievement of goals by management.

Our Board’s combined expertise and experience includes:

  • major export markets for livestock and livestock products
  • industry processing and marketing
  • extensive and intensive livestock production
  • industry organisational arrangements
  • government networks, legislation and policy development processes
  • animal health services and their delivery
  • agricultural and medical biotechnology
  • quality systems in animal health
  • strategic, economic and financial management skills.

Current directors

Current directors of Animal Health Australia are listed below.

Mr Peter Milne, Chairman since 2011, Director since 2002

peter milne

Peter managed beef cattle properties in Queensland for 35 years until the end of 2003.  He has held many senior elected positions in livestock and meat industry organisations at both state and national level over the past 24 years with a focus on biosecurity and food safety.

Peter currently holds the positions of:

  • Member Biosecurity Queensland Ministerial Advisory Council

He was previously:

  • Director of NLIS Ltd
  • Chairman of the NLIS (Cattle) Advisory Committee
  • President of Cattle Council of Australia
  • Chairman of Safe Food Production Queensland
  • Director Food Standards Australia New Zealand
  • Chairman NFF Quarantine and Animal Health Task Force
  • Chairman of Red Meat Advisory Council
  • Member Safemeat Partnership

Peter holds an Associate Diploma of Business and is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Accountants, a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and was for twenty five years a Fellow of the Taxation Institute of Australia and a Registered Tax Agent.

Dr Bruce Christie, Director since 2012

bruce christie

Bruce is the Deputy Director General Biosecurity and Food Safety, NSW Department of Primary Industries responsible for biosecurity and food safety strategy and policy development and implementation within NSW.

Bruce has over 30 years of experience working in biosecurity, initially as a veterinarian dealing with animal health and production issues and then across the broader biosecurity spectrum of animal and plant pests, diseases and weeds.

As NSW Chief Veterinary Officer he led responses to a number of exotic disease incursions, including the successful eradication of Equine Influenza (EI) from NSW and Australia.

Since 2004, when he was appointed to the position of Director Animal and Plant Biosecurity, Bruce has driven a cross-sectoral agenda aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of biosecurity systems for animals and plants in NSW and across Australia. He represents NSW on the National Biosecurity Committee and has been a key driver in the development of the national Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB) and the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA).

Ms Sharon Starick, Director since 2010

sharon starick

Sharon Starick holds an Honours degree in Agricultural Science. Since 1993, Sharon has been producing grain and pigs in the Mallee region of South Australia. Her extensive knowledge of sustainable primary production was developed through her own on-farm practices and past participation in Mallee Sustainable Farming and the South Australian No-Till Farmers Association.

Through Sharon’s strong interest in policy development and collaboration within Australian agriculture, she currently holds the positions of:

  • Director of Animal Health Australia
  • Chair of the Australian Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program
  • Director Livestock Biosecurity Network

She also has a passion for natural resource management and conservation that is reflected in her Chairing the South Australian Murray–Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board and past membership of the South Australia’s Natural Resources Management Council, the Australian Landcare Council and the Community Advisory Committee for the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council. As a past director of Land & Water Australia and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Sharon has experience in strategic planning for research and extension.

Mr David Palmer, Director since 2011

david palmer

David Palmer has a dedicated career spanning 30 years in administration and policy development in the Australian beef, sheep meat and goat industries. David has a Diploma of Farm Management (MOFAC), Graduate Diploma Business Management (AGSM) and GAICD.

David’s other Board positions currently are:

  • Chairman – NSW rural Assistance Authority
  • Chair – Rural Assistance Advisory Committee to the NSW Agriculture Minister.
  • Director – Greater Sydney Local Land Services
  • Director – Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre

David has held positions of:

  • 2013-16 – Chairman – LBN (Livestock Biosecurity Network)
  • 2006-11 – Managing Director of Meat and Livestock Australia. Chaired the MLA Donor Company – a unique instrument for matching voluntary research funds with Government matching dollars.
  • 2002-06 – Regional Manager – North America (MLA)
  • 1998-2002 – General Manager – Corporate Communications, MLA.

He is a former Executive Director of the Cattle Council of Australia; spent some years at NSW Farmers’ Association and previously owned and operated livestock and farming enterprises in North West slopes and the Southern Highlands of NSW.

Dr Len Stephens, Director since 2016

Dr Len Stephens is a veterinarian with PhD training in pathology anddsc_0244 microbiology. He is the Managing Director of the Seafood CRC Company Ltd, Chairman of Australian Seafood Industries Pty Ltd, a Director of the Rural Industries R&D Corporation and a Director of the South Australian Estuary Care Foundation.

His previous positions are: Director – Dairy Australia Ltd (2007 – 2010); Chairman – Australian Wool Exchange, Standards Advisory Committee (2007); Chief Executive Officer – Australian Wool Innovation Ltd (2003 – 2006); General Manager – Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd (1996 – 2003), Southern Program Manager – Meat Research Corporation (1996 – 1998), Director – Victorian Institute of Animal Science (1987 – 1996), Director – Daratech Pty Ltd (1990 – 1995), Director – Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Bairnsdale, Victoria (1982 – 1987).

Ms Michelle Gorman, Director since 2016

Michelle is the Head of Small Business Lending Product at Westpac. Michelle joined Westpac in 2015 via the inaugural Equilibrium Program – a CEO sponsored initiative that attracts women with executive experience from industries other than banking.

Prior to her move to financial services, Michelle spent nearly 20 years in the food and agriculture sector, predominantly at Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA). Her last role at MLA was General Manager, Industry Systems. Her team’s responsibilities included developing and delivering industry-wide programs that enabled the Australian livestock production and processing sector to maintain world’s best practice, particularly in the areas of food safety, traceability and eating quality. Other highlights during her MLA career included managing the company’s North America office in Washington DC, serving on the NLIS Ltd and AUS-MEAT Ltd Boards and managing the market access program.

During 2003 to 2006 Michelle worked as a lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest farmer and rancher organisation in the United States.

Michelle’s formal qualifications include a Master of Management (MGSM), an MSc in Economic Development and International Trade (University of Reading, UK) and a BSc Agriculture (University of Sydney). She is also a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ms Paula Fitzgerald, Director since 2016paulafitzgerald

Paula Fitzgerald is a senior professional with a background in stakeholder and government relations, policy development and advocacy, communication, regulatory affairs, issues management, membership engagement, and capacity building.

Paula has worked across a diverse stakeholder base and has established trusted networks, both nationally and internationally, to develop and lead local and global teams and to deliver strategies and solutions, particularly across the science and agriculture sectors.

Paula is currently a director and deputy chair of Skills Impact Australia, a member of CSIRO’s Agriculture and Food Advisory Committee and a member of the Federal Government’s Gene Technology Ethics and Community Consultative Committee.


Page reviewed: April 26, 2018